While things at churches aren't back to normal yet throughout much of the world, a recent survey says as health restrictions ease there could be more people than ever at some churches.

Lifeway Research surveyed 1,000 protestant Christians in the United States about what their plans are once COVID-19 is no longer an active threat to people's health. The results show that many churchgoers say they will be back, with 91 per cent saying they'll attend servies at least as often as before. Almost one-quarter of those (23 per cent) say they now plan to attend church services more often than they did before the pandemic.

A small number of respondents said they'd attend less regularly than before (6 per cent), with two per cent saying they will rarely attend, and 1 per cent say they will stop attending in-person services.

Lifeway says that's good news for worried pastors. "Two-thirds of pastors whose churches were open for in-person worship in January saw attendance of less than 70% of their January 2020 attendance," says Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. "Many of these pastors are wondering if those who haven’t returned ever will. Nine in 10 churchgoers plan to when it is safe to do so."

Young adults lead the way, with 43 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds saying they will attend church more often. A recent survey in the United Kingdom also showed that young adults lead the way in reading Scripture more often during the pandemic than they did before.

Respondents also say that the pandemic has actually helped grow their relationship with God, with 54 per cent saying the grew closer to God, which includes 27 per cent who say they became much closer to God. Another 7 per cent reported growing more distant in their faith.

The survey also found that "11 per cent of churchgoers say they are questioning their faith, while 87 per cent disagree."

“The faith of most churchgoers remains resilient despite a year filled with much uncertainty and fewer options for meeting in person with others from church,” says McConnell. “During these trying times, churchgoers were almost eight times more likely to relate to God more than less.”

The survey, conducted from February 5-18, included respondents who attended religious services at least once a month in 2019.